Surgeons Remove 1,500 Acoustic Neuromas | News | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Two Loyola Surgeons Team up to Remove 1,500 Acoustic Neuromas

Loyola surgeons operating

MAYWOOD, IL –  In one of the nation’s longest and most successful surgical partnerships, Loyola Medicine otologic surgeon John Leonetti, MD, and neurosurgeon Douglas Anderson, MD, have worked together to remove 1,500 acoustic neuromas during the past three decades.

An acoustic neuroma, also known as a vestibular schwannoma, is rare, occurring in about one in 100,000 people per year. It is located in the inner ear and grows inward toward the brain. It’s slow-growing and usually benign. The tumor can cause hearing loss and ringing in the ear in one ear and numbness on one side of the face. If the tumor grows large enough, it can be fatal.

Loyola Medicine's Center for Cranial Base Surgery is one of the nation's leading centers in treating acoustic neuromas. The center sees three to four new patients per week and Drs. Anderson and Leonetti jointly perform about 70 acoustic neuroma operations per year.

Removing an acoustic neuroma requires careful planning and delicate surgery. Dr. Leonetti gains access to the tumor and identifies the nerves that must be saved. He then removes the portion of the tumor that lies within the inner ear cylinder. Dr. Anderson removes the portion of the tumor that lies next to the brain.

Before the 1960s, acoustic neuromas were fatal in about half of all patients. Improved technology and techniques, including MRIs and microsurgery, have greatly reduced mortality. The challenge now is to preserve functions of the facial nerve (which controls facial expression), cochlear nerve (hearing) and vestibular nerve (hearing and balance). These nerves are contained in a confined space, called the internal auditory canal, where the tumors arise.  Surgeons must remove as much of the tumor as possible, without damaging the nerves.

In addition to Drs. Leonetti and Anderson, Loyola's clinically integrated team includes highly trained audiologists who attend the surgeries. Electrodes placed directly on the nerves provide real time feedback to audiologists who monitor nerve function during the surgery.

"This gives us, the surgeons, the best chance and a unique opportunity to save hearing in more patients," Dr. Leonetti said. 

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.